European Commission proposal to phase out subsidised coal production by 2014 contradicts employment goals set out in EU2020 strategy

Recently, the European Commission approved a proposal for a Council regulation which requires subsidised coal production across Europe to be phased out by October 1st 2014. As a consequence, tens of thousands of jobs in mining regions which are already severely hit by the global economic crisis are now at risk. In particular, the Ruhr and Saar districts in Germany, Spain’s Asturias, Castilla and León provinces as well as the Xiu valley in Romania would be effected most drastically, but also some regions in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. FECER’s president François Perniola is deeply concerned, “Despite the conclusions drawn by Commission services from last year’s stakeholder consultation that the industry needs at least ten years to wind down its uncompetitive operations for social and environmental reasons, including adjustment of regional employment structures, the College of Commissioners agreed to allow a life span of less than four years. Moreover, this decision is in stark contrast to the objectives of the EU’s overall strategy until 2020 which puts improvements in employment levels all over Europe as its highest priority.”

FECER thus calls upon the Commission to critically review its recent proposal on a coal regulation beyond 2010 in the light of its strategic objectives, particularly those set forth in the EU2020 strategy. Further, the governments of coal producing Member States are urged to form a coalition and lead the Council to adopt a revised coal regulation that must come into

force as of January 1st 2011. This regulation should enable the industry to phase out its noncompetitive operations in a socially and environmentally acceptable way by allowing for the adjustment of regional employment structures and the creation of alternative employment opportunities over a manageable period of time.

Brussels, August 9th 2010